Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Being Chosen

Today is the last day of the Omaha Public Library Adult Reading Program. For every book we read we are entered into prize drawings, and the grand prize is an iPad. I really, really want to win this iPad. I'm no gadget freak and not even an Apple devotee, but I WANT TO WIN AN IPAD! We are frugal and possess a meager supply of adult toys. Our television is dainty and Mike still games on a PS2. We blog on a desktop and our phones are not smart. Shouldn't we win a cool new toy, don't we deserve it? And besides all that I am one of those people who likes to moan that I never win anything.

I'm sure that's not true but there's only one time I can remember "winning" a random drawing. I was in the 6th grade: the height of early-pubescent awkwardness. I had crooked teeth (well, I still do, I just don't care anymore). I didn't know how to style my hair. I was into New Kids on the Block, but my favorite was Donny, for goodness's sake. I often wore sweaters that I borrowed from my mom and was an amateurish jeans-pegger. My burning desire at this age was to blend in and disappear. To never ever stand out from the crowd.

So when the 5th and 6th grades gathered in the gym for an assembly one day, I sat as always in the thick of the crowd and willed myself invisible. These occasions always carried some risk of being picked as a "volunteer" to humiliate oneself in front of ones peers, and were therefore treacherous psychological ordeals during which I focused all my mental energy on not being seen. I don't remember what this assembly was about, but it involved a human-sized robot, cleverly named Robie. Maybe it was about robots? Maybe it was even this program, I have no idea.

But I do remember the moment that it was revealed Robie was going to be choosing two student "volunteers," a boy and a girl. And I knew. I knew as sure as I knew the sky was blue, this was about to be the most embarrassing moment of my life.

I have to back up for a moment to explain the depth of my vulnerability, for despite my pathological shyness I had managed to land a boyfriend, in the fifth/sixth grade sense of the word. I met Jake at church and thought he was seriously cute, and no boy had ever liked me before as far as I knew, so when the proposal of "going out" came through the wire, it was a no brainer for me. Even though I knew I was painting a target on my back because he was not exactly a catch in the schoolyard social system. He was a new kid, a year younger than me, and a skateboarder, all of which placed him quite low on the social ladder at the time. Still, he liked me! Still, I didn't exactly want any attention drawn to our budding romance.

And so. Of course. Who do you think that a-hole Robie picked to stand up in front of two entire grades gathered together in the gymnasium? I heard my name first and I froze. Surely just by sheer force of will I could cease to exist... but no. And then Jake's name, first and last, in the icy cold mechanical voice of Robie. NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I am certain that I didn't move a muscle for at least a solid minute. Surely that sadistic machine couldn't see me sitting there so maybe I could just never get up. But all my friends were physically pushing me to my feet.

And from there my recollection goes blank. My psyche has spared me the everlasting trauma of this horrific memory by by wiping it from my brain.

So you can see why I totally deserve to win the iPad. This is my moment, my chance at redemption. An opportunity to be randomly drawn for good and not evil. Please, library, don't let my only experience of winning be total degradation and public humiliation at the hands of an unfeeling robot!

Monday, July 26, 2010

In Defense of Subtitles.....

We saw the movie "Inception" last week, it was good. I think. At least that is what I've been told to think, well, at least it made me think. I've been thinking about that movie over and over since I saw it, and if you're a simple man like me, trying to think and have nothing happen is very common. (If you did see the movie and are a little perplexed by what you just saw, luckily for us, there are really smart people who spent all sorts of money going to college only to end up having to explain movies like "Inception" to knuckleheads like me. Here is a very good explanation of what you just saw in the movie "Inception"....)

Here is my main gripe about that movie. They give this major part to this actor Ken Watanabe, a veteran Japanese actor who's been doing it for over 30 years. I'm sure he's a totally hip guy to be around, but the problem here is that THE DUDE CAN BARELY SPEAK ENGLISH!!!!!!! He ends up having this major important exchange with Leonardo DiCaprio at the end of the movie and I couldn't understand A SINGLE WORD OF IT!!!!!!! If you are gonna make a movie where every word matters, every minute detail means something even down to the song that is played over and over again (in French no less) don't you think it would help if you made sure that the actors annunciated their lines instead of mumbling them? I'm sure that somebody on set must have considered this.

Here's my proposal, let's embrace the use of subtitles!! That movie would have been so much better for me if they used subtitles every time Ken Watanabe spoke (Sheeet, they use subtitles every time Dennis Rodman speaks and he's from this country!!). Erin and I use subtitles all the time. We use subtitles for just about all the movies we watch and it works out brilliantly. Have you ever seen the movie "Hustle and Flow"? That movie is a real challenge for people without soul, in fact we didn't get past the first two minutes before I said "WHOA!! I can't understand a single word these people are saying, put on the subtitles..." Presto!! I could now understand the dirty south with no problemo!! What movies like that really need is a "honky translator" like this.....

Another awesome movie to watch with subtitles is "Sexy Beast". Not just because they are speaking with those stupid British accents, but because the script is so damn' good. That and "Trainspotting" two movies that are so much more enjoyable with subtitles because you can actually break through the language barrier.

We should have subtitles with everything, have you ever tried to listen to Shaquille O'Neal talk? here's a little Jamie Foxx impersonation of Shaq daddy, tell me he doesn't need a translator....

The master of all this butchering of the English language would have to be the Godfather of Soul James Brown. For your viewing pleasure..... I present to you....Eddie Murphy!!! (Back when he was funny)

I'm just saying that the world might be an easier place if we all embraced the use of subtitles. I know I won't be seeing the movie "Inception" again until it comes out on DVD so I can have my good friend the subtitle-er there to help me. Try it sometime.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Poor Wife Had No Idea She Married a Knicks Fan.....

This past month and a half my beautiful wife had to witness an ugly side of me that she hardly knew existed. She had to witness the bizarre David-Banner-like transformation of a loyal, compassionate husband and father into a freakishly obsessed, painfully addicted, self-absorbed nut job known as a Knicks fan.

Ever since we met in 2003, I have been able to suppress my own personal Mr. Hyde from her rather easily. The Knicks were on year 3 or 4 of laying humongous turds in the NBA, and I, being a self-described fair weather fan, found it rather easy to pay little or no attention to their horrible play. Besides, I had devoted much of my late teens through mid twenties having my heart ripped out every spring by the likes of Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Pat "the Rat" Riley, and John Starks's abysmal 2 for 18 performance in game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals. Taking a much needed emotional rest was the perfect remedy, and I also figured it might only take a year or two until they righted the ship and got everything back up and running, and I'd be there for them when they needed me. More importantly, I had a dart team to captain up in Boston and that took up most of my attention from 2003 to 2005 anyway.

Little did I know that the Knicks would manage to keep themselves insignificant for the next 7 years after my wife and I first met. She would sometimes get a hint of how much I secretly enjoyed basketball (like when the Celtics and Lakers met in the 2008 NBA Finals) but she still had no idea how ugly my obsession could get... until now.

It all started in May when that no good low-life LeBron James decided to quit on his team in the middle of a seven game series with the Boston Celtics. At the time I was thrilled because I thought, there is no way he is coming back to Cleveland, that guy just gave up on them, and since it has long been speculated that he always wanted to be in New York this is it!!! He's coming to the Knicks baby!!!! That was how it all started, on a weekday in May, when I knew for sure that LeBron James was not going back to Cleveland and that the only logical choice was to take his "talents" to Madison Square Garden aka "The World's Most Famous Arena." That was when I started talking to my poor wife about the one subject (besides soccer) that she couldn't care less about - basketball.

The entire month of June was like this bizarro countdown to Christmas that my wife had no idea mattered to me so much. She never really grasped how deep my interest/obsession in the Knicks ran. She was starting to get the idea when I started talking about how important the Knicks are to the NBA and how having a contender in New York is good for America and good for the Democrats in this coming mid-term election (why, I have no idea, obsession doesn't make sense, it's just an obsession). She would ask me about what I was thinking about when I would crack this huge Kool-Aid smile and she would say, "Let me guess, LeBron and the Knicks." I can't help it, I've got a one track mind sometimes.

When July 1st finally came, that was when the monster really came out. All I did for eight straight days was watch ESPN, listen to sports talk radio on many different formats (terrestrial radio, satellite radio, and internet podcast radio) and I would go to my new favorite source for everything Knicks, That website was the one that might get me in the most trouble - I can't stop looking at it, it's like meth for losers. Those 8 days were when my wife really knew something had changed. I would just lay awake at night thinking about what might happen - "Is he coming to New York or what? How could you turn this opportunity down? We're talking about over a billion dollars in endorsements!!!!"

So when the day finally came that Prince James decided to bolt Cleveland and head to the Knicks' hated rival the Miami Heat I felt nothing but empty. How could he do this? Why? Don't you know that nothing is sweeter than winning in New York? I have had a million thoughts about this since it happened and I was going to share (for those who are still reading) a five point power presentation on why LeBron is a chump for doing what he did the way he did it but even as I write this, I'm starting too see my wife's point that this has gone too far. I need to find the antidote to put this Knicks monster back inside the bottle... WAIT!!!! Did I hear that the Knicks might re-hire Isaiah Thomas as General Manager? Honey!!! I love you!!! I'm cured!!!! Hey Honey!!???!!! Honey!???!!!??? ERIN!!!!!!???????????

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hi There!!

We're back!!! That's right! I'm sure you had been wondering "what happened to The Real Humans dot blogspot dot com? One day they were here to make me feel less awkward about my own personal issues and the next day they're gone. What, no good-bye? What a rip."

Well I'm here to say - BACK OFF!!! All we were doing was procreating, and sometimes that type of thing takes time and energy. Lots of sweet, horny energy. Actually what really happened was I kept on having to go to my dumb job, and coming home with only 3 or 4 hours before my bedtime made things complicated. It takes time to write all these big words and I just wasn't finding it.

On top of that, we made a baby! (Hooray humanity!!) Now that he knows how to roll over and put everything he can handle in his mouth, I don't have to watch him as much, so I can spend more time with you the reader writing our dumb blog. Just kidding, Russell the dog is keeping an eye on him for me and he's a pro. He knows to bark two times for help and three times for the postman, or something like that, basically he keeps barking if he sees something that might interest me.

So what have I learned now that I am the father of a bouncy baby boy? I have learned this - There is NO WAY that Superman could have landed on this Earth as a baby. You know how I know this? Because I have a child ( I love jumping on that soapbox). Superman could have landed on Earth, but he would have been shipped off to Area 51 in about 2 weeks tops. There is no way that Jonathan and Martha Kent could have handled that little super boy without breaking every bone of theirs in the process.

Remember that scene in Superman when the little super baby picks the truck up and saves Jonathan Kent from certain amputation? A baby with that kind of super strength would be a nightmare to deal with. (Speaking of amputation, did you here about that guy in Connecticut who had to saw his own arm off? Dude, that is why I don't clean behind the boiler. Who's gonna go looking behind there? If anyone gives you shit about a little dirt behind the boiler you label them an asshole and you don't invite them over ever again. DON'T CLEAN BEHIND THE BOILER!!!)

My little boy has a nice grip on him and he is at that stage where he grabs at everything. He grabs at hair, he grabs at the dog, he even grabs at people's boobs. He's kind of like a drunk frat boy at a Limp Bizkit concert. I could only imagine what that grip would feel like if he had super human strength. I would have no choice but to do whatever he desired. I would be his slave. I wouldn't want that super squeeze on my already broken fingers, that would hurt like a mother.

Maybe I would put up with that crap if he was my own kid, but there is no way I am tolerating that shit from some hillbilly inbred orphan I found in the middle of a cornfield. That kid would have to become a science experiment at some secret government base that may or may not exist in the southern portion of Nevada. Adios spaceboy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Future of Humankind

Hello! Why yes, we have been slacking on the blog. It seems we slightly underestimated the time commitment involved in everyday blogging.... An hour a day doesn't sound that demanding, but once we're done with work and cooking and eating and cleaning up and playing wiffle ball with the dog and spending a few minutes talking - we only have about an hour or two to watch a little Netflix TV before our 9:00 bedtime. And the kid isn't even born yet. We'll consider this blog already broken in for when we have no free time at all and no one will ever hear from us again. (Just kidding dear family!)

Although we decided a while ago that this blog wouldn't be all about baby, there's baby chitchat and there's baby news. And we have baby news... granted it's old news and if you know us at all you've already heard, but once again for posterity's sake: IT'S A BOY!

Because I am just this much of a nerd, I have to point out that the sonographer committed one of my pet peeve errors and labeled our baby's penis "gender," when of course we all know the biological status of baby is the sex while gender is more of a social construct blah blah blah. But certainly the sex is pretty unambiguous... our son gave us the money shot as soon as she went looking down under. I think that Mike and I were both stunned for a moment; obviously there were only two possible outcomes, and yet somehow seeing it with our own eyes was still a slightly surreal moment. Technology is amazing, eh?

Some people still choose to wait to find out the sex of their unborn baby, but we are not such people. I'm not the most patient person in the world; if I could magically time warp to January after our son's arrival, I would. And not just because that would mean skipping the whole beached whale stage of pregnancy and the whole getting a 7 pound baby out of there experience. (And yes, I am adamantly choosing to believe this baby will be average and not the back-shattering size of my husband as a newborn - according to the family horror stories. If you attempt to tell me that I'm probably going to have a big baby, just know that inside my head I'm saying LALALALALALALACAN'THEARYOUUUUUUU!)

And so we have just about four months before we get to meet this little guy in person. What, you don't think his wittle skeleton face is cute? How dare you! Actually, I kid but the ultrasound was incredible, and in fact if you are so inclined you can even watch it online. Baby's first home movie, already a Youtube sensation. Make sure you check out the renal glands, that is totally the best part.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Life's a Beach

It's been nearly three years since Mike & I moved to land-locked Nebraska, and lately, for the very first time, I've started to miss the ocean a little. The #1 thing we heard from all of our friends on the East Coast when we told them we were leaving was "Won't you miss the ocean???" and we always said, "ehhh... I don't think so." And I haven't, really. Houses under $200k have a funny way of dampening nostalgia.

But at last, my inner beach bum has begun to stir a bit. If anything it's surprising it took this long - after all, I grew up on an island. My life practically revolved around the beach in the summer. When I was very young, going to the beach was the main way that my mom and her friends with young children socialized during the warmer months. I have a very early memory of swimming underwater, close to the shore - something I learned to do before I could even properly doggie paddle.

In the 80s we used to go to a beach we called Jetty Beach, in Oak Bluffs, so called because stone jetties bordered it on either side. We went there because it was not as crowded as other parts of the shoreline on Martha's Vineyard - and also because it was in walking distance of a public restroom - needed because in those days, we would spend the entire day at the beach - from just after breakfast until almost dinnertime.

In the 90s, I suddenly realized Jetty Beach was gone. Erosion had chewed away at it until only the boulders along the wall were left, and a thin strip of sand at low tide. As an adolescent I realized that it was uncomfortably close to the ferry - that is, not close enough to be dangerous, but certainly close enough for me to wonder if we had been swimming in diesel fuel. Hmm.

In the late 80s, my dad and uncle bought a boat together, and this took over our summers as our main form of entertainment. We occasionally went tubing, but mostly we loved to take the boat from the harbor near our house, out over the ocean, and into a lagoon where we could park at an uncrowded, quiet stretch of beach to relax and swim. (I will confess that I was mildly terrified of being out in the rough ocean on the boat.)

As a teenager, of course I sadly fell prey to self-conscious desires to be cool and not be seen in a bikini, so my beach attendance fell off somewhat in summer months. But once I could drive, I found that the beach was a great place to indulge in teenage angst, especially in the winter when no one was there. I would often drive to the seaside to park and write embarrassing, tortured diary entries with only the Atlantic Ocean as my witness.

When we lived in Boston, Mike and I rarely made it to the beach, but we did drive down to Nantasket Beach in Hull a few times. On one of our first dates, we went to Nantasket, bought a kite and flew it on the beach, and went for a quick swim in the frigid ocean.

Right before we left Boston forever, we lived for a month in a rental house practically right on the beach in Winthrop (where we later had our wedding). The house was a true bachelor pad, with plastic lawns chairs for interior furniture, but we only had to step out the back door and walk 25 feet up a wooden boardwalk to be on the beach. Winthrop's only flaw is that it's close to Logan Airport, so planes would fly close overhead. At night they were amazing to see. Russell loved going out to beach every evening to play ball and run around (although he never did like swimming).

Now here we are in Nebraska. Nebraska has some rivers (the Missouri, though, is an ugly brown puddle in these parts), and it has man-made lakes. There are a surprising number of beaches local to Omaha, some of them very attractive, but of course nothing really compares to the ocean. I look forward to someday taking our child to Martha's Vineyard to play on the beach - I would hate for my kid to grow up never having seen the ocean (imagine!). Recently I have even become nostalgic enough that when I stop to really remember, I can almost smell that salty air.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why I Love and Hate Sports So Much.....

This past weekend I, like many people in the world, were glued to our TV set watching what we presumed to be history in the making. I am not talking about the Erin Andrews sex tape. I am talking about a 59 year old Tom Watson almost winning the British Open and becoming the oldest man in the history of golf to do such an achievement.

I sat there Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning watching this remarkable drama play out only to have mine and many, many millions of other people's hearts broken on the 18th and final hole of the championship. This poor guy blew it on the last hole.

Technically, he didn't blow it right then and there. He had an opportunity in a 4 hole playoff to win, but he knows and I know and the world knows, that it was over before the playoff even started.

This is why I love and hate sports. Sports is the one passion play in this world that can suck you in and tear you apart, if you let it. There is no greater joy or pain (that has absolutely no bearing on your existence) than having your favorite team win it all, or blow it big time.

That's the crazy thing about sports too. It really doesn't (and should not) have any bearing on your well being. If it does have a bearing on your well being than chances are you are gambling on it, and in my opinion you are not really a fan if you need to wager money on a game in order to enjoy it.

Why do I have such a healthy opinion on keeping a safe distance from yourself and your favorite team?

Because I am a Knicks fan.

If you are a Knicks fan over the age of 25 than you know all too well about pain and heartache. You, like me, sat there and watched Michael Jordan tear our hopes and dreams apart like no other. If you are a Knicks fan than you know what I'm talking about when I mention "The Dunk" (the highest of highs). Then again you know exactly who I'm talking about when I mention someone going 2 for 18 in game 7 (the lowest of lows). Being a fan of the Knicks is all about heartbreak, I could go on and on about the pain and sorrow that all Knicks fans share.

At what point did I stop letting this game affect me so much? It must have been when Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers started embarrassing my beloved Knicks that I said enough is enough. If I let a chump like Reggie "Cheryl" Miller spoil my good mood than what's the point? I knew I had to let go otherwise I would be doomed.

That is why it's better to keep a safe distance from your emotions and your love of sports. It can only lead to a deep rooted pain that can barely be cured. Just ask any Cubs fan.

**** Oh by the way. If you clicked on the Erin Andrews sex tape link hoping that it was the real thing: Thank-you. I have always wanted to "Rick-roll" somebody.